MacManus slams Irish government housing record in EU Speech
Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands Northwest, Chris MacManus has slammed the government’s record in a speech to the European Parliament.
Speaking to Parliament, MacManus highlighted the high number of short-term lets in the West and North-West compared to long-term lets.
“According to new data, there are substantially more short-term holiday lets available in Ireland, than long-term lets.”
“Galway has nearly 20 times more short-term options than long term, while Donegal has 47 times more.”
“Successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments are pushing our young people away from a future in Ireland.”
“How can we turn the tide of our young people leaving our shores when we can´t even provide them with a home of their own?”
“When I see the abundance of holiday homes available, I have to ask myself - does our current government view the west of Ireland as anything more than just a holiday destination, for them to spend a weekend retreat? A playground for those with second and third homes whilst others go homeless?”
MacManus concluded by calling for action to help alleviate the difficulties young people are facing when it comes to housing. “It's time for action, not just words, let’s secure our youth's future.” ENDS/CRÌOCH
Below: Chris MacManus MEP addresses the European Parliament to highlight the Irish Government's housing failures
Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has said news that cuts to youth services and early years will not go ahead is a ‘relief’ to many families and communities.
The party’s education spokesperson said:
“News that cuts to youth services and other important projects like SureStart and the Pathway Fund will not go ahead is a huge relief today for families and communities.
“These projects are a lifeline to many and crucial to children’s development in the early stages of life, particularly young people in disadvantaged areas and it’s absolutely paramount that they are protected.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome step, but we now need to see an end to cruel and heartless cuts to other services.
“Children and young people are bearing the brunt of Tory austerity and one party’s refusal to form an Executive.
"We need the Assembly and Executive back up and running with no more delays and parties working together to support workers and families facing cruel Tory cuts."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has criticised Government following the release of waiting list figures for primary care psychology services, which show a huge increase under this Government.
18,622 people are waiting on primary care psychology services as of April 2023. This was at 10,466 when the Government took office in 2020 - a 78% increase.
Teachta Ward said:
“Waiting lists for mental health services are only going one way under this Government, and that is up.
“When this Government took office, 10,466 people were waiting for a first-time primary care psychology appointment.
“This now stands at 18,622, which is a 78% increase.
“15,698 of those waiting are young people below the age of 18. This is up from 8,893 in 2020, a 77% increase during the lifetime of this Government.
“What is shocking is the nearly 6,000 young people waiting longer than a year mental health supports.
“Having one child waiting over a year for vital mental health services is not good enough, but having 6,000 is a systemic failure by this Government.
“Primary care psychology provides services for people who are experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties or mild to moderate mental health difficulties.
“We have seen the number of young people waiting on specialist CAMHS appointments rising almost every month with close to 4,500 waiting.
“Minister Butler is quick to cite an increase in referrals as reason to why we have an increase in those waiting for CAMHS but she fails to recognise it is the absolute failure to resource our primary services that is leading to the pressures on CAMHS.
“If young people get the care they need at primary care level, then they are less likely to need the more acute services of CAMHS.
“Young people are being let down at every stage of mental health care and are being left behind by Government.
“Behind every waiting list figure is a young person with hopes and dreams, and they are being denied their right to reach their full potential.
“What we need now is a change of Government. We need Sinn Féin Ministers for Health and Mental Health that will prioritise early intervention in mental health and delivering services in a timely manner.”
First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill has congratulated Dáithí Mac Gabhann, his parents and all who have campaigned to deliver an opt-out organ donation system.
Speaking as Dáithí’s Law comes into effect today, Michelle O’Neill said:
“This is an historic day as Dáithí’s Law comes into effect, with all adults in the north now considered organ donors unless they choose to opt out.
“Today belongs to little Dáithí Mac Gabhann, his parents Máirtín and Seph, and all who have campaigned tirelessly to get this life saving law over the line.
“You never gave up and have given hope and inspiration to the many people on the organ donation waiting list.
“This is an example of the real change that can be delivered when parties work together in the Assembly and Executive to better people’s lives and drive forward progressive legislation.”
Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has condemned the shooting of a man on the Antrim Road tonight.
The North Belfast MLA said:
“I condemn the shooting of a man on the Antrim Road tonight.
“There is no place for guns on our streets.
“This reckless attack has caused disruption for residents tonight and left people living in the nearby flats traumatised.
“Anyone with information on this attack should bring it forward to the PSNI.”
Former Uachtarán Shinn Féin Gerry Adams speaking at this evening’s Ireland’s Future event in Queen’s University called on the Irish government to establish a Citizen’s Assembly and that it should agree with the British government a firm date for the unity referendum provided for by the Good Friday Agreement.
“I am not suggesting that this should take place immediately but the Irish Government should seek a date now which allows for inclusive preparation to begin. And that preparatory work should start now.”
Mr Adams also addressed the place of unionists in the new Ireland; “It is important that unionists are involved in shaping this”.
In his remarks Mr Adams said:
“The recent local government election demonstrates that huge change is happening as we speak, and more change is on its way. It is important that unionists are involved in shaping this.
Let it be very clear unionists have a place of right in the new Ireland.
And we want them to be part of what we collectively create.
Change is happening as we speak, and more change is on its way. It is important that unionists are involved in shaping this. Let it be very clear unionists have a place of right in the new Ireland. And we want them to be part of what we collectively create.
The unionist population and its political representatives working with the rest of us on this island is the surest guarantee that their cultural identity – British and unionist – will prosper and be protected in a new and independent Ireland. The safeguards that are in the Good Friday Agreement with respect to identity, cultural and language rights will continue in a new Ireland.
The DUP should take its place with the other parties in the executive. Working with the unionists in the Assembly and the other parties and independents is also part of working toward a new agreed Ireland.
But let’s be clear we have our work cut out for us. We know at this point that the British and Irish governments are against constitutional change and against the referendums. So, are the unionist parties. There are many different reasons for this.
For example, the British government is a unionist government. And the Irish government is worried about a national realignment of politics in which the establishment parties will lose their dominance.
Notwithstanding this our efforts in the time ahead must focus on challenging the Irish and British governments with the demand for the setting of a date for the referendums.
We must also encourage the governments and the Irish government in particular to prepare for the unity referendums and for a successful outcome.
The Irish government has chosen at this time to reject any proposals – including the establishment of a Citizen’s or series of Citizens' Assemblies – to facilitate discussion and to plan for the future.
We must remind Dublin again and again and again that the Good Friday Agreement created a mechanism for constitutional change through referendums. It was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people in referendums North and South.
The Irish government has a constitutional obligation, and it is also a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement - to prepare for unity. So, that means the Irish government should establish a Citizens’ Assembly to begin the work of planning.
It should agree with the British government a firm date for the unity referendum provided for by the Good Friday Agreement.
I am not suggesting that this should take place immediately but the Irish Government should seek a date now which allows for inclusive preparation to begin. And that preparatory work should start now.
The Irish people have the right to self-determination. We have the right to determine our own future, without outside interference, peacefully and democratically. That is a central part of the Good Friday Agreement.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Justice, Pa Daly TD, has today urged the government to act on the results of a new study into familicide and domestic homicides.
The study has recommended that a national database should be established for reporting on violent family deaths.
Speaking today, Teachta Daly said:
“The review is an important watershed moment in what are extremely shocking and violent cases that tear communities apart. A piece of work such as this has been long overdue.
“I commend the families who have campaigned tirelessly to ensure that families facing devastating violence like this receive better support.
“The review covered the years 2000-2018 and only included cases where all legal proceedings had been completed. This gave a figure of at least 166 persons having died in familial violence in that period, with the State Pathologist’s office telling researchers a further 14 cases between 2014 and 2019 did not feature in public records.
“This demonstrates the urgent need for a national database on such deaths and the upcoming DSGBV Agency Bill provides an opportunity to advance policy in this area.
“Sinn Féin have long argued that family homicide review panels must be implemented, with inter-agency collaboration taking place to ensure risk factors are identified.
“The report must be implemented rapidly and it is welcome that a number of government ministers have responded to the report’s findings. Every second counts for families at risk of such violence and we cannot afford to see any further delays.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on the Minister for Health and Government to move quickly to improve access to reproductive healthcare. He said that five years on from the repeal of the 8th amendment, there are still many barriers impeding access to lawful services, including geographical disparity in service provision and the mandatory 3-day wait.
The TD for Waterford said that the Minister should move quickly to implement less complex legislative changes recommended by the review rather than waiting to implement all legislative changes in a single bill.
Teachta Cullinane said that it could take months if not years to complete consultation processes and develop legislative amendments to give full effect to many of the recommendations of the review, but that some legislative barriers such as the 3-day wait could be addressed quickly before the summer recess.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“In 2018, people voted for women to have access to services. Five years on and the services are still not properly in place. Women should be able to access the services which were voted for.
“This morning was a welcome opportunity to engage with Marie O’Shea, the author of the final report on the abortion services review, who outlined how barriers such as geographical disparities in service provision and the mandatory 3-day wait are impeding access to services.
“It is clear from this engagement that there are some recommendations, including some legislative changes, that could be implemented very quickly, such as removing the mandatory 3-day wait.
“The review makes 75 recommendations, many of which are operational, and some of which will require lengthy consultation and further discussion with clinicians and other stakeholders.
“The necessary process for reaching a conclusion on those recommendations should not delay the changes which can be implemented quickly.
“The Minister for Health should immediately progress amendments to the Act to remove barriers to abortion services such as the mandatory 3-day wait rather than waiting to implement all legislative changes in a single bill.”
Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said it is a huge blow that work to build 28 new post-primary schools has been paused as result of cruel Tory cuts.
The party’s education spokesperson said:
“It is hugely disappointing to learn that work to build 28 new post-primary schools has been paused by the Department of Education because of cruel Tory cuts.
“This is a huge blow to our children, school staff and communities who greatly benefit from having first-class education facilities.
“Over a decade of continued and savage Tory cuts from London is having a hugely detrimental impact on our children’s education and our public services.
“Rather than swinging the axe at our public services, the British Government should be providing more investment in services.
“The blocking of the Executive by one party must end now. We need parties working together to support our schools from the impact of these savage cuts.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said that legislation in the area of company and employment law must prioritise workers' collective redundancy agreements.
Speaking after an Oireachtas committee hearing on collective redundancies, Teachta O’Reilly said:
“For nearly a decade successive governments have tip-toed around closing loopholes and lacunas in company and employment law in relation to tactical liquidations.
“Indeed, it is seven years since the publication of the Duffy-Cahill Report into the need for legal protections for workers where a company engages in a tactical liquidation to avoid its obligations to its employees.
“This report was commissioned following the tactical liquidation of Clerys department store, which made nearly 500 workers were made immediately redundant and denied them their collective redundancy entitlements.
“Despite a host of recommendations being made by the Duffy-Cahill Report as to how loopholes could be closed and workers protected, successive governments failed to act and protect workers.
"As a result, five years later Debenhams was liquidated in similar circumstances with over a thousand workers losing their jobs and their collective redundancy entitlements.
“Time and time again we have seen tactical liquidations used by companies to make workers immediately redundant and deny them their collective redundancy entitlements, and time and time again we have witnessed successive governments do nothing about it.
“For years workers, trade unions, and opposition politicians have been seeking legislative protections for workers collective agreements. Finally, the government have outlined their intentions to deliver legislative improvements in the area through the ‘Collective Redundancies Following Insolvency Bill 2023’.
“While any improvement in this area is welcome, the Bill does not address the situation whereby workers are treated as unsecured creditors for the purposes of their collectively bargained redundancy agreements.
“This means that this debt to the workers is not prioritised along the same lines as wages and statutory redundancy.
“This matter must be addressed and Sinn Féin will be amending the legislation to ensure due recognition is given to workers collective redundancy agreements.”
MEP MacManus visits Lough Allen College
Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands Northwest Chris MacManus recently visited Lough Allen College in Drumkeeran alongside his Sinn Féin colleague Cllr Padraig Fallon. They held a discussion with students there on the European institutions and the role of elected representatives at local, national and European level. MacManus commended the students for their engagement, stating that it was very positive to see young people taking an interest in politics, and thanked the staff for facilitating the visit. ENDS
Pictured are Chris MacManus MEP and Cllr Padraig Fallon with Lough Allen College students and teachers Maria Foley and Laura Creaven
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Communications and Transport, Martin Kenny TD, has responded to reports related to the potential closure of sorting offices in Cork.
These reports come as An Post undertakes a review of its services nationwide in a bid to cut costs.
Speaking today, Teachta Kenny said:
“We’ve seen in the last few years just how vital our postal service was as a way to keep families and friends connected when they were unable to visit each other. Indeed it started a trend that seems to have continued since.
“Part of the rationale put forward by An Post for a potential closure of the Ballincollig and Midleton sorting offices is that they are not fit for purpose due to the increase in sorting of bulky packages and limited space. Of course, the other reason for this nationwide review is the €6m loss by An Post in the last two years.
“While we must always ensure that the public is getting value for money, cost saving cannot occur at the expense of providing a public service that many people rely on.
“It is my understanding that the Midleton closure would see services moved to an existing sorting office in another area, however the potential closure in Ballincollig would result in the need for a new sorting office to be established elsewhere.
"Frankly, it seems wasteful to go through the planning and construction of a brand new sorting office, when extending space may work just as well, if it is possible to do so.
“In this case, I would hope An Post management would consider extending the sorting offices that they have identified in the review. If the offices are not equipped for the increase in package sorting due to a lack of space, then they need to examine ways to extend their facilities.
“We have seen time and again the waste of state resources when governments fail to adequately plan services around communities.
"There are copious examples of services being moved or closed, only to be reopened years later at a huge cost to the taxpayer.
“Governments continue to be penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to the public services."
MacManus commends work of Ballaghaderreen Family Resource Centre
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has commended the team at Ballaghaderreen Family Resource Centre for their work in supporting the local community. The Midlands North West representative was speaking after a recent visit to the resource centre.
MEP MacManus said:
“I was pleased to visit Ballaghaderreen Family Resource Centre recently. I had a very positive engagement with the staff there and representatives from a number of local community groups. I want to commend them for their fantastic work in supporting the local community in Ballaghaderreen and surrounding areas.”
“The FRC provides a wide range of supports and services to local people such as a drop-in clinic, parent and family support and personal development programmes. They fill the gaps left by a number of other services and play an important role in supporting the large refugee population in the local area as they adapt to their new surroundings.
“This work is vital for addressing social exclusion, poverty, assisting marginalised groups and providing equal opportunities to all. It underlines the need for Ballaghaderreen FRC and other community sector organisations to be protected and adequately resourced so that they can continue to provide these invaluable services. Sinn Féin will continue to highlight the need to support resource centres in Roscommon and across the State.” ENDS
See attached photo of Chris MacManus MEP at Ballaghaderreen FRC
100,000+ cainteoirí nua le ceiliúradh, ach géarchéim le sárú in úsáid laethúil na Gaeilge - Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Chuir urlabhraí Gaeilge, Gaeltachta, Ealaíon agus Cultúir Shinn Féin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, fáilte roimh fhoilsiú an achoimre ar thorthaí a bhain leis an nGaeilge i nDaonáireamh 2022 inniu.
Cháin sé áfach gur chinn an PríomhOifig Staidrimh gan sonraí faoin nGaeilge a fhoilsiú i nGaeilge.
Dúirt an Teachta Ó Snodaigh, atá ina Chathaoirleach ar Chomhchoiste Oireachtais na Gaeilge, na Gaeltachta agus Phobail Labharha na Gaeilge:
“Tá ábhair ceiliúradh le sonrú sna figiúirí a foilsíodh inniu. Tá 100,000 cainteoirí nua Gaeilge sa Stát sa bhreis ar cad a bhí ann i 2016, ag leigheasú an titim a bhí ann ó 2011 go 2016 agus ag dul chun tosaigh ar sin.
“Más fíor mo thuiscint ar chúrsaí, is é seo an chéad uair ó ré an Ghorta Mhór gur féidir a rá go bhfuil 2 milliúin duine le Gaeilge in Éirinn, idir an 1.87 milliúin sna 26 Contae dar leis an Daonáireamh seo, agus an 228,600 aitheanta sna 6 Contae i nDaonáireamh 2021.
“É sin ráite, cé go bhfuil ardú ar líon na gcainteoir iomlán, níl mórán dul chun cinn le sonrú sa chéatadán iomlán – 40% de dhaonra an Stáit – agus tá titim le feiceáil ar líon na gcainteoir laethúil lasmuigh den chóras oideachas.
“Seo an dara Daonáireamh i ndiaidh a chéile ina bhfuil titim sonraithe ar líon na gcainteoir laethúil Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht, agus tá titim le feiceáil i ngach Gaeltacht seachas Ciarraí agus na Déise. Ar a laghad tá an ráta creimidh i bhfad níos lú ná mar a bhí i 2016, rud a léiríonn go bhfuil ag éirí go pointe leis an bpleanáil teanga agus gur gá níos mó tacaíocht a thabhairt dó.
“Caithfidh an rialtas tabhairt faoin 40% atá Gaeilge acu a spreagadh í a labhairt. Duine as gach ceathrar acu a deir nach labhraíonn siad riamh í.
“Seo an chéad Daonáireamh inar cuireadh ceist ar chumas na gcainteoir Gaeilge, agus is ábhar spéise dúinn na torthaí a d’eascair ó sin.
“As an 40% iomlán atá Gaeilge acu, deir 42% go bhfuil Gaeilge mhaith nó an-mhaith acu, figiúir atá os cionn 60% i measc an aoisghrúpa 10-19. Léiríonn sé seo an fiúntas a bhaineann le ham a chaitheamh go rialta le Gaeilge ar scoil mar ábhar éigeantach, agus go dteastaíonn iarracht ar leith chun daoine óga a choimeád ag úsáid Gaeilge tar éis dóibh an scoil a fhágáil más mian linn stop a chur leis an dtitim ó aois 20 ar aghaidh.
“Seans go bhfuil léiriú ar thábhacht an Ghaeloideachais le sonrú sa bhriseadh síos de réir contae, áit a bhfuil Muineachán in éindí le Gaillimh, Dún na nGall agus Ciarraí i measc na contaetha ina bhfuil cumas maith nó an-mhaith ag na Gaeilgeoirí ann. Is i gcontae Mhuineacháin atá an céatadán is airde sa stát de dhaltaí a bhíonn ag freastal ar ghaelscoileanna agus ar ghaelcholáistí, agus dea-shampla atá ann gur féidir éirí leis an athbheochan teanga fiú i gcontaetha Béarlaithe gan Gaeltacht.
“Tá sé suimiúil freisin go dtagann ardú arís ar mhuinín na ndaoine ina gcuid Gaeilge ar bhonn chéimniúil agus iad ag dul in aois ó 55 ar aghaidh. Teastaíonn anailís ar an athrú meoin seo.
“Deir 55% dóibh siúd a bhfuil Gaeilge acu nach bhfuil Gaeilge mhaith acu, rud a léiríonn go bhfuileadar den tuairim go bhféadfadh siad feabhas a chur air. Seans go dtabharfadh ranganna Gaeilge saoir in aisce do dhaoine fásta, mar a aontaíodh ag Ardfheis Shinn Féin anuraidh, deis dóibh tabhairt faoin nGaeilge a fheabhsú agus a úsáid ó lá go lae.
“Tá polasaithe eile molta ag Sinn Féin, sna spriocanna a mhol muid don oideachas lánGhaeilge inár n-aighneacht ar pholasaí an rialtais, agus sna 7 ndícheall beartaithe againn chun an Ghaeilge a normal agus a spreagadh i mbéal an phobail, a féadfadh leo tionchar mór a bheith acu ar an scéal.
“Teastaíonn cur chuige uailmhianach chun dul i ngleic leis an titim ar úsáid laethúil na Gaeilge, go háirithe sa Ghaeltacht, agus chun tógáil ar an méid atá bainte amach sa Dhaonáireamh seo.”
100,000+ new Irish speakers to be celebrated, but crisis of daily speakers still to overcome - Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, welcomed today’s publication of the summary results relating to the Irish language in Census 2022.
He criticised however that the Central Statistics Office failed to publish the data on the Irish language in the Irish language.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh, who also chairs the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Irish-Speaking Community, said:
“There is some cause for celebration to be found in the figures published today. There are 100,000 new Irish speakers in the State above what was there in 2016, addressing the decrease that happened between 2011 and 2016 and even growing beyond that.
“If I am correct in my understanding, this is the first time since the era of An Gorta Mhór that we can say there are 2 million Irish speakers in Ireland, between the 1.87 million in the 26 Counties according to this Census, and the 228,600 identified in the 6 County Census in 2021.
“That said, while there is an increase in the overall number of speakers, there has not been much progress in the overall percentage – 40% of the State’s population – and a decrease can be seen in the number of daily speakers outside the education system.
“This is the second Census in a row where a decline is evident in the number of daily Irish speakers outside the Gaeltacht, and a drop can be seen in every Gaeltacht except Kerry and Waterford. At least the rate of decline is much smaller than it was in 2016, which suggests the language planning process is succeeding to a degree and deserves more support.
“The government must work to encourage the 40% who have Irish to speak it. One in every four of them say they never speak it.
“This is the first Census to include questions on the fluency of Irish speakers, and the results emanating from that are of interest to us.
“Of the 40% who have Irish overall, 42% of them say they speak Irish well or very well, a figure that increases to over 60% in the 10-19 age group. This demonstrates the benefit that comes with spending time regularly with Irish at school as a mandatory subject, and that a particular effort is needed to keep young people using Irish after they leave school if we want to stem the decline that happens from 20 years of age on.
“The breakdown of data by county is perhaps showing us the importance of Irish medium education, with Monaghan up there alongside Galway, Donegal and Kerry among the counties where Irish speakers speak it well or very well. Monaghan has the highest percentage in the state attending Gaelscoileanna and Gaelcholáistí, and is a good example for us that language revival can succeed even in Anglicized counties with no Gaeltacht area.
“It is also of interest that people’s confidence in their Irish increased gradually as they get older from age 55 on. More analysis is needed on this change of mentality.
“55% of those who have Irish say they don’t speak it well, which shows that they believe they could improve the Irish they have. Free Irish language classes for adults, as agreed by Sinn Féin’s Ardfheis last year, could give them the opportunity to try improving and using their Irish day to day.
“Sinn Féin has proposed other policies, in the targets we recommended for Irish medium education in our submission on the government’s policy, and in the 7 efforts we proposed to normalize and encourage use of Irish in the public sphere, which could have a big impact on the situation.
“An ambitious approach is needed to tackle the decline on daily use of Irish, especially in the Gaeltacht, and to build on what has been achieved in this Census.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has described the latest increase in eviction notice figures from the Residential Tenancies Board as ‘alarming’ and has called on government to ‘immediately reintroduce the ban on no fault evictions and introduce an emergency package of measures to address the escalating housing and homelessness crisis.’
Teachta Ó Broin said:
"Today the Residential Tenancies Board have released their eviction notice figures for the first quarter of 2023.
"From January to March this year a further 4,753 eviction notices have been issued to tenants. The majority of these notices were issued on grounds of a landlord selling the property.
"Last Friday saw the Department of Housing release the April homelessness figures. More than 12,000 adults and 3,500 children are now officially homeless.
"The primary cause of this appalling level of homelessness is a collapse in the number of homeless preventions and exits from emergency accommodation.
"With the number of evictions notices being issued at such a high rate there is little doubt that without an emergency intervention by government the numbers in emergency accommodation are going to continue to rise.
"Government must immediately reintroduce the ban on no fault evictions and introduce an emergency package of measures to address the escalating homeless crisis; including using emergency planning and procurement to deliver an additional volume of social and affordable homes and increased staffing to Councils to process tenant-in-situ purchases more quickly."
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education, Sorca Clarke TD, has urged the government to act urgently to protect families from crippling school costs.
Her comments follow publication of a report by St Vincent De Paul, that details how some parents feel forced to take out loans or get help from charities to cover the costs.
Speaking today, Teachta Clarke said:
“Today’s report from St Vincent De Paul makes for highly concerning reading. It is clear that families are under huge pressure from school costs. The price of uniforms, tablets and devices, books and transport can be crippling. On top of these, schools are asking families to pay hundreds of Euros in voluntary contributions as well.
“Parents’ money cannot stretch that far and they are under real pressure. This is causing huge stress for families already struggling with a cost of living crisis.
“In 2021, my colleagues Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire and Matt Carthy introduced legislation that would prevent families being pressured to pay these costs. The government did not oppose the Bill but have failed to act upon it.
“Sinn Féin are also calling on the government to fund the education system properly, so that schools do not feel the need to fundraise to cover basic costs.
“Let’s be clear, the reason why schools feel put in this position is because of the government’s failure to invest in schools. The government needs to ensure that schools have adequate funding, instead of expecting the buck to be passed on to parents when schools’ funding falls short.
“It has been two years since Sinn Féin brought forward our legislation, but the government has sat on its hands. I am urging the government to end the delay and enact Sinn Féin’s legislation immediately. If not, they need to come forward with their own solutions. Families are worried about the return to school fast approaching. They need help now.”
Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said delivering the A5 road will help save lives and transform one of the island’s most dangerous roads.
Speaking from the A5 public inquiry in Omagh today, Conor Murphy said:
“The A5 is one of the most dangerous roads on our island, and has been the scene of heartbreak for too many families.
“Delivering the transformation of the A5 road will save lives and make this road safer for everyone.
“The A5 dual carriageway project was first launched 16 years ago when I was the Regional Development Minister in the Executive and made huge progress.
“It is deeply frustrating that continued legal challenges have held up this vital project and stalled the delivery of a first-class road from the north west to Dublin.
“Work to build the A5 must start once these latest challenges are overcome, and I would urge people to have to their say in support of this project at the public inquiry.
“This is a major opportunity, as not only will this transform the road, it will unlock huge economic benefits through connecting the north west to the rest of the island, while creating jobs and cutting journey times.”
MacManus calls on Fine Gael MEPs to support Business and Human Rights Law
On 1 June in Brussels, MEPs will vote on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). While there was majority support for the text negotiated by the Legal Affairs Committee, right-wing groups in the Parliament have tabled amendments to remove important parts of the text.
Chris MacManus, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest, said ahead of the vote, “Next Thursday, MEPs vote on an historic new law that will hold companies accountable for their human rights and environmental records. Every vote will count and I urge all Irish MEPs to stick to the progressive text agreed by the Legal Affairs committee. Fine Gael’s MEPs in particular must oppose the amendments proposed by their group that would restrict the effectiveness of this new law.”
The EPP group, in which Fine Gael sits, has tabled amendments that would absolve companies’ directors of responsibility for the human rights and environmental impacts of the company. The proposed changes would also remove any link between directors’ pay and the sustainability performance of the company.
“Removing director responsibility for due diligence would really take the teeth out of this law,” said MacManus. “International best practice says that, in order to change a company’s practices, the upper management of that company must be made responsible for ensuring that human rights and the environment are protected. Linking their variable pay to the achievement of sustainability outcomes gives added incentive for management to act.”
A large group of MEPs from the EPP and Renew groups (in which Fianna Fáil sits) have also tabled amendments that create loopholes in the liability of companies for the damages they cause. The EPP are also trying to remove the requirement for companies to address their climate impacts and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
MacManus said, “As so often happens with good corporate accountability legislation, MEPs on the right are trying to put the interests of big businesses above the lives and livelihoods of those affected by them. The Irish people have clearly expressed their support for a strong CSDDD that really holds business accountable for protecting human rights and the environment. It is time for all Irish MEPs to oppose the EPP’s efforts and support the text of the law agreed by the Legal Affairs committee.” ENDS
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Kathleen Funchion TD, has appealed to the Minister Roderic O'Gorman to back calls to ensure he protects victims of Domestic Violence, and sets the daily rate of Domestic Violence leave pay at 100% of an employees pay.
Teachta Funchion said:
“We know that many victims of Domestic Abuse experience financial abuse as part of the coercive control they are subjected to.
“This can mean limited access to family assets and savings, with many not having control of their own money.
“They often survive on very tight budgets. Even a small decrease in their usual pay may ring alarm bells for their abusers.
“Many individuals accessing Domestic Violence leave will do so at a time when they are either escaping or planning an escape from an abusive relationship.
“This time can be used to access legal support and court proceedings or for relocation.
“Their incomes and bank accounts are monitored in some cases, with cases of an abuser have complete control over their pay.
“A loss of income at this already challenging and in some cases extremely dangerous time, would exacerbate the risk to victims.
“Leaving an abuser can bring additional financial constraints, in the form of legal fees, accommodation and having to replace items left behind.
“Any reduction in income would be completely counterproductive.
“I have written to the Minister, and would encourage others to write, expressing my strong belief that Domestic Violence leave is paid at 100% of an employee’s pay.
“It is without question the best support to that employee, in the simplest possible way for the employer, with a very modest financial burden for the employer/organisation.
“Sinn Fein’s strongly held position is that up to 10 days’ domestic violence paid leave should be the statutory annual entitlement, unfortunately the Government’s Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act will provide for only five days' leave in a 12-month period.
“I strongly feel that was a mistake, which cannot be compounded by less than 100% of an employees pay is paid.
“It is crucial we continue to de-stigmatise Domestic Abuse in Ireland and offer crucial support to victims.
“So I would appeal to people to contact the Minister who is currently drafting ministerial regulations to prescribe the daily rate of Domestic Violence leave pay to call for Domestic Violence leave be paid in full of the person’s normal rate of pay.”